Yamaha Racing has been competing in the Royal Moto Grand Prix Class with an escort of satellite teams since 1977. However, for the first time since that moment, in 2023, Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP will go to the start in proud solitude – there will be only two factory YZR-M1 and no more. YFR is urgently looking for a solution, but it became clear that the rumor about the possible transition of the Valentino Rossi team under the wing of Yamaha is greatly exaggerated.
Yamaha’s first satellite team was supported by the American representative office of Yamaha Canada with Steve Baker as the flagship, who immediately got into a fight with Barry Sheen. But for almost two decades of the MotoGP era, the YFR satellite was the French Tech3 team, but it chose to become part of KTM Factory Racing in 2019. Tech3 was replaced by a new Sepang Racing Team championship team supported by the Malaysian oil giant Petronas, but after Petronas left, SRT transformed into a 100% private RNF team. He took over the baton of the Yamaha satellite, but lasted only one year in this role: Razlan Razali, the founder, and manager of RNF, considered the working conditions with YFR not the best for the development of his project. Razali accepted the offer of Aprilia Racing – he will become a satellite of Aprilia from 2023! This was announced unexpectedly to everyone, including Yamaha, which simply did not have time to reorganize its workspace.
At the moment, Yamaha has absolutely no choice who to offer to become a satellite in 2023: all private teams have contracts (mainly with Ducati Corse), and RNF was the only “free” one. So the choice is obvious – Yamaha will spend the season in proud solitude, which does not look and is not a disaster in fact. But the plant needs a partner team to develop the motorcycle and promote young pilots selected by Yamaha for long-term development to the championship – that is, to cultivate loyal pilots for whom the name of the plant and the relationship with the project managers mean something.
Options? Practically none! The only real partner for Yamaha in the MotoGP paddock is the Valentino Rossi team, VR46 Racing Team, represented in Moto2 and MotoGP. Moreover, she rides in Moto2 in two formats at once – this is, in fact, Mooney Racing VR46 Moto2 and the joint project Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team, in which the same garage rolls out young Asian riders. It would seem that they have the cards in their hands!
But there is a nuance that has now become of key importance. When Valentino was looking for a technical partner to launch a garage in the Royal Class, Yamaha was “busy” – it had a contract with SRT /RNF, and the factory did not plan to put more than 4 motorcycles at the start, as Valentino did not persuade Lin Jarvis. And then Rossi went to Ducati, where he was not refused. The contract with Ducati at VR46 Racing Team is signed for a period of 3 years, which means that nothing will change for Yamaha until the end of 2024…
Luigi Dahl’Inya commented on the rumors about a possible breakup with the VR46 Racing Team during the holidays: “We have a contract with VR46, it is concluded for a period of 3 years, it is valid. You know, at the moment both sides [Ducati and VR46] are absolutely happy with our cooperation, I can see that. The team’s results please us. Can the situation change in 2024? Of course, you should not think ahead… One thing I can say for sure: it will be an unusual situation for me not to see private Yamaha on the starting grid in 2023,” Dal’inya said.
And in Assen, at the last stage of MotoGP before the big holidays, Mooney VR46 Racing Team manager Pablo Nieto made it clear that with excellent relations with Yamaha Racing, the team does not plan to change partners until the end of the contract with Ducati.